Florida Constitutional Amendment for Parental Notification May Wait

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 15, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Florida Constitutional Amendment for Parental Notification May Wait

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 15, 2003

Tallahassee, FL (LifeNews.com) — Because a special session of the Florida legislature is already handling another contentious political issue, legislative leaders have unofficially decided to wait before proposing a constitutional amendment requiring parents to be notified before an abortion can be done on a teenage girl.

Whether the legislature passes such an amendment now or during the next regular session of the legislature in 2004, it will appear on the 2004 November ballot.

"The battle will continue weather it is in 2003 special session, or the 2004 legislative session, or the 2004 elections," Florida Right to Life president Robin Hoffman told LifeNews.com. "The parents of Florida will rise to the occasion when the time is right to do so."

Pro-life Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and legislative leaders came up with the idea following the Florida Supreme Courts decision that a parental notification law passed by the legislature was unconstitutional. The court said it was a violation of the state constitution’s right to privacy provision.

A spokeswoman for Bush said the governor wants to see a new law and a constitutional amendment, but won’t add it to the legislative agenda this week unless lawmakers reach agreement on medical malpractice, the other hot issue in the legislature.

House Speaker Johnnie Byrd (R) wants the debate to happen next week, but Senate President Jim King (R) says it would be too difficult to pass right now.

In an online poll of more than 3,000 people, 64 percent of respondents told the Palm Beach Post they did not believe the notification law was a violation of the right to privacy. Only 36 percent agreed with the court.

"I think it would pass easily among voters," said Mathew Staver, president and general counsel of the Liberty Counsel, which joined the state in defending the 1999 law. "The challenge with any amendment is to get the wording done right."

Former Congressman Bill McCollum, who is seeking Sen. Bob Graham’s U.S. Senate seat in 2004, expressed his support for the pro-life law and a constitutional amendment.

"It is a fundamental right of parents to be involved in decisions that affect their children," McCollum said.